Every year, a monstrosity of a mock draft comes down the pike here at Grizzly Bear Blues. It’s a whale of an endeavor - a chance for GBB readers and Grizzlies Twitter fans to interact with Memphis media members and GBBers via some wheeling and dealing as mock GMs controlling one of the 30 NBA franchises. As the NBA season approaches, I will be breaking down some of those major deals that went down as the draft occurred last month, as well as some picks that were steals, reaches, and much more.
To kick off this process I figured it made sense to begin with...me. As the “boss”, I get to be the Memphis Grizzlies every year in this activity. And it is FUN. There have been years I have gone crazy rebuilding the team. There are years I am more reserved and simply make selections. Last year was a busy one, with me (believe it or not) acquiring both Justise Winslow and Brandon Clarke through various draft dealings weeks/months before the Grizzlies did the same thing. This year, given the spot that the Grizzlies are in with their roster largely being set, the margins were my focus.
I had three goals in this draft.
- Clean up the mismatches/mistakes. That meant trade Kyle Anderson (awkward fit in Taylor Jenkins’ system, especially defensively) and Marko Guduric (not good at basketball). Moving on from Kyle in particular stung - he is a good player with a unique skill set, and there is value in how he plays the game despite him being a square peg in the round hole that is the modern NBA. But he was a signing of a previous regime, and if you’re able to get off of his deal you should.
- Acquire a second pick, preferably in the first round. A late first rounder in this deep draft (lacking in stars, but impressive in terms of potential role players) is quite valuable. Four years of cost-controlled rookie contributions, restricted free agency flexibility...the benefits are pretty solid. And to get to the later 1st round from, say, #40 (where Memphis started the process) won’t be too hard to pull off given all the future 2nd round picks the Grizzlies have access to.
- Snag another young prospect, but not in the draft. All the youth in the world can give Memphis multiple bites at key core players to run along with Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. This isn’t to say I wanted to go out and swing for the fences. Just that if the opportunity came to add more young talent to this group, I was going to go after it.
- Get a 3rd true point guard. If parting with Anderson was a top goal of mine, I’d have to address a major loss from departing with Kyle - his handle/ability to facilitate.
- Memphis receives #43 and #52, Sacramento receives MEM 2022 2nd and Marko Guduric
- Memphis receives #26, Romeo Langford, Enes Kanter. Boston receives Kyle Anderson, #40, 2021 2nd, 2024 2nd (via TOR)
- Memphis receives TJ McConnell, Indiana receives Enes Kanter
Not as sexy as Justise Winslow, but a solid haul.
First, I went and got more ammunition for future trades...or simply more picks in a draft that I am high on in the later selections in terms of value. I was able to find a team that still believed in Marko Guduric and move off of his $2.7 million for this year. All it cost was a 2nd rounder in a draft Memphis may well have two first round selections in 2022.
Then, the major move - I traded with Boston again, I know. Risky business. But I got my late 1st rounder (#26), my young prospect wing (Romeo Langford), and off the Kyle Anderson deal in one swing of the mock GM hammer. Kanter made the money work (and wouldn’t be in Memphis long). Three second round picks head out here from the Grizzlies, which isn’t a cheap cost to get that 1st rounder and get off of the Anderson deal. But again, it’s really more about moving the assets around - now there are three picks for the Grizzlies in this draft (#26, #43, #52). Not all those guys will be contributors this season. But they’ll have opportunities both with Memphis and with the Hustle in Southaven to develop if they don’t have time this season.
Finally, Kanter becomes TJ McConnell, an expiring contract who serves nicely as a third point guard. As far as insurance policies go, you can do a lot worse than McConnell - he can score, handle, and manage an offense perfectly fine while Ja or Tyus Jone recover or rest, depending on the situation.
With the third point guard in the fold without a draft pick, now I can prioritize drafting best available before taking for need. That helps a lot when it comes to building a franchise.
#26 - Desmond Bane, guard, TCU. Real good value here. When someone like Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer compares you to Malcolm Brogdon, it makes me pay attention. Bane can facilitate and create for himself and others. He’s limited athletically but he has an NBA skill set with regard to shooting (44.2% from three last season) and playing in the pick and roll offensively. He may not have the highest ceiling, but he’s unlikely to be a “miss” in terms of not sticking as an NBA rotation player.
#43 - Isaiah Joe, guard, Arkansas. Again, tremendous value - we will be unveiling our GBB big boards as the draft approaches, and Joe has a 1st round grade from me. Him being there at #43 is wonderful. He can handle nicely off the ball and make threes off the dribble and projects to be at worst a net neutral NBA defender. You may be thinking “really, another guard?” Joe can spend much of this first year with the Hustle developing the areas of his game that are lacking and making his shooting strength more consistent.
#52 - Killian Tillie, Gonzaga. Perhaps the best value selection of the lot. If Tillie were healthy on a regular basis he’d be a lottery pick. But, he’s...not that model of health you’d hope he would be. And that’s why he may fall. But this 6’10” 40% shooter from range fits the Grizzlies “type” of being a high IQ player (much like Bane, especially) who has multiple offensive tools in his game. His injuries have hurt him in multiple ways - he has lost some movement laterally, and he isn’t able to play above the rim to protect the paint and grab rebounds at a high clip. It’s probable he doesn’t make it in the NBA...but if he does? He’d be a perfect 4th big, and could make Gorgui Dieng more expendable via trade.
So I got the team a third point guard while adding more youthful talent. I moved off of players who don’t figure to be in the long-term plans and also got a cost controlled 1st round rookie who can theoretically come in and contribute right away. Most importantly, I added to the flexibility of Memphis. Should the Grizzlies wand to take a swing at a big free agency fish in 2021, that becomes easier to do. If the team wants to double down on the youth movement they can. They add actual assets in terms of young talent as opposed to random 2nd rounders for years from now. This was a successful process for mock Memphis.
You’re welcome, Grizzlies fans.
We will break down the biggest deals of the 2020 GBB Community Mock NBA Draft in Part II.